Now comes the most exciting part – a glimpse of how your days in the Maldives will be like. Apart from sitting by the beach, sipping in your favorite cocktail, reading your book or writing one and simply getting yourself pampered under the sun if you think if there’s anything else to look out for, you are in for a surprise! There are some really popular tourist destinations and attractions in the Maldives that orient you to the culture, history, and tradition of the Maldives.
From the local attractions you can find in the major cities to activities like snorkeling, dolphin spotting, and scuba diving, the Maldives ensures that every hour or rather every minute spent in this pristine archipelago is worth it and that it’s eternal. A lot of travelers and tourists quote that though it’s the images of the beaches and islands online that made them book tickets to the Maldives and enjoy their holiday in the most beautiful way possible. While here, you will also stumble upon hippies, aspiring musicians, professional surfers and people from many different walks of life, trying to embrace themselves, their goals and take in whatever this little piece of paradise has to offer.
With so much to do and see, there is never a dull moment in your itinerary. You will be shuttling back and forth between islands, restaurants, spas, and activities to do what you intended to do and finally get back to a cozy bed that awaits you in your resort, to be again pampered with a dark chocolate as you call it a day. Still, want more? Check out some of the must-see attractions and must-do activities in the Maldives. Plan a trip and don’t forget to get yourself the Best Travel Insurance for Asia at Thomas Cook.
One of the first places to visit in the Maldives when you’re in Malé is the Grand Friday Mosque. The popular attraction also goes by the names Old Friday Mosque, the Malé Friday Mosque, and the MaléHukuruMiskiy. Situated in Kaafu Atoll, the monument stands tall against the test of time and majestic. Opened in 1658, The Grand Friday Mosque is one of the oldest mosques in Malé.
Apart from being the largest in the Maldives, it is also one of the largest in south Asia, accommodating more than 5,000 people at once. Thanks to the intricate architecture and its proximity to the main jetty, the mosque is a major tourist attraction in Malé.
The mosque is renowned for its golden dome and its interiors and wood carvings. It stands opposite to the National Security Service Headquarters and is open for tourists from 9 AM to 5 PM and times outside prayers. The best time to visit the mosque is between 2 and 3 in the noon.
If you are keen on knowing more about the place and its history, you can approach the staff members who will help you out with the information you seek. However, you need to be well dressed to meet the standards. It is mandatory that men wear full-length trousers and women wear long skirts or body-covering dress.
Location: MedhuziyaaraiMagu, Malé, Maldives
Known for: Its intricate architecture and heritage
How to reach: Reach JumhooreeMaidan and find the National Security Service Headquarters. The Mosque stands opposite to it. There are ferries operating from the islands (except Fridays) and will charge you approximately Rs. 150 for a two-way ride. It takes 90 minutes to reach from Maafushi islands.
Timing: 9 AM to 5 PM
Approximate Charges: None
One of the most tragic incidents to happen in the last two decades is the tsunami calamity in 2004. Just a day after Christmas, when the world was still in a festive mood, a major underwater earthquake in Sumatra triggered tsunamis across the coastlines of the Maldives, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Almost every resident in these regions remembers the tragedy and the Tsunami Monument was erected as a tribute to those who lost their lives in the incident.
Located at the Thin Ruh Park in Malé, the monument is very close to the Vilingli Ferry terminal. If you’re put up at the Vandolhu islands, a seaplane ride for about 25 minutes will get you to the monument. The attraction is known for its intricate design and subtly placed metaphors. The balls carved out of steel are twenty in numbers representing the atolls in the Maldives and the design that goes bottom-to-top stands for the mounting levels of water during the tsunami. The monument also bears rods made of iron that signify the lives lost, with each carrying the name of the souls.
Amidst the hustles of the city, the monument is a good place to relax, take a walk or simply contemplate on the worth of everything before life. Ask the locals and they’ll tell you it’s less of a monument and more of hope.
Location: The Tsunami Monument
Known for: Design, serenity and a structure to remember the tragic incident
How to reach: Reach Villingil Ferry terminal and head to the Thin Ruh Park in Malé. You can find the monument. You can take ferries from your resort island and get to Malé, from where you can easily find the monument with the directions above. Ferries are the cheapest ways to get to any island in the Maldives.
Approximate Cost: Not Applicable
Operating hours: 24 hours and 7 days a week
Opened for the public in the year 1952 on the Maldives’ National Day, the National Museum stands as an edifice of history. The people of the Maldives are known for their keen interest in preserving their art, culture, tradition and history and this museum is an example of their aspirations.
The Museum is located in Malé’s Sultan Park area and is part of the Maldivian Royal Palace compound, which by itself dates back to the 17th century. Designed and built by China, the National Museum was a gift from the Chinese government to the Maldives in the year 2010. The museum hosts of some intricate wall cravings of the Holy Qur’an and includes a collection of artifacts from the pre-Islamic era such as thrones, coins, shoes, armors, furniture, royal costumes and ornaments, turbans, ceremonial dresses, slippers and more belonging to the age.
The Museum is known for its head of the Lord Buddha made out of a coral stone, dating back to the 11th century. Besides, it also features a plank made of wood with engravings from HukuruMiskiiy, dating back to the 13th century. The three-storied museum was subjected to an incident of vandalism and several priceless pieces of artifacts were broken down to powders for being idols.
Location: The National Museum
Known for: collection of artifacts from the pre-Islam era and a 11th-century Buddha head
How to reach: Reach Sultan Park bus station and walk towards the Maldives Philatelic Museum. You will find the National Museum adjacent to it. If you’re taking a ferry from your island, you will be dropped at mostly Jetty 1 or 2. Almost all the important jetties are located close to each other. Once you get down, its a two-minute walk to Sultan Park.
Approximate Cost: 100 rufiyaa for adults and 20 rufiyaa for children
Operating hours: 10 AM to 5 PM from Sunday to Thursday
Perhaps the grandest festivals of the year, Eid is when people come together, celebrate and spread joy and happiness. Occurring in the month of September, this is the best time to be in the Maldives to witness cultural splendors, festive vibrance, grand feasts and more. It is celebrated for three days across the country. You should be there to witness Eid like never before.
The Maldives was occupied by Britain until the year 1965, when they decided to vacate and announce the Maldives as a free independent nation. On the 26th of July every year, the Independence day is celebrated by the people in the Maldives and is marked by parades, cultural programs and shows and again great food selections. This is best for those who are keen in history and evolution of countries and for foodies who wouldn’t miss a chance to devour some sumptuous food.
This is probably the best times to be in the Maldives. It falls on the Islamic calendar’s third month and either during November or December according to the Western calendar. During this time, shops shut early and mosques are illuminated and glow in all their grandeur. If you’re visiting the Maldives this time, head to Malé for the best cultural experience.
This is one of the most unique sports the Maldives offers you and should make it to the top things to do in the Maldives. Designed as an alternate to scuba diving, these scooters will scoot you through the waters without having to wear cumbersome gears and training. This is perfect for those who do not know how to swim. It is an activity that even those who are afraid of water can enjoy. The scooter is designed in such a way that makes it easy for you to breathe underwater by encasing your head on a helmet for perpetual air generation.
It’s like the water version of a conventional land scooter and you have a handlebar to control your direction and buttons for acceleration and brakes. All you have to do is get on it, get inside the casing and detach from the world, as you go as deep as 5 meters below the sea, cruising through a speed of 2 kilometers per hour.
You can find these underwater scooters and get on one on the Maafushi Island, exactly 90 minutes from Malé. With perfect conditions and sandy beaches and crystal clear lagoon, the island is ideal for underwater scootering to explore the rich ecosystem of coral reefs and other underwater flora and fauna. You dive for approximately 30 minutes and the entire tour takes around one hour of your time. Who knows? You might even find Nemo underwater!
For a single rider, the approximately price is close to Rs. 6000 and Rs. 12,000 for a two-person ride. While prices vary from operator to operator, its best you check out your options and make a prior reservation before you go.
Best for families and individuals, this ride is your safest interaction with the marine. You should do this to know some of the most beautiful creations that we don’t get to see in your daily lives. You should also do this to battle your fear of water out and conquer it. If you’re doing something worth remembering, why not do it in the Maldives?
Location: Maafushi Islands
For: Adventure enthusiast and friends group
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Approximate Cost: Rs. 6,000 for single seat and Rs. 12,000 for a pillion
Why should you do it: To get a first-hand view and experience of the coral reefs and the marine ecosystem
Tips: You don’t need to know swimming and there are no gears you need to carry. Simply leap and go with the flow.
The closest you can get to flying if paragliding is not your cup of tea! Parasailing allows you to conquer the waves originating from the Indian Ocean and soar above them with all your might. One of the most preferred adventure sports for tourists, parasailing lets you get the feel of a surfer but by attaching yourself with a boat and a canopy on your back. As the boat propels further, you raise from the ocean bed to soar above the waves that are usually 2 meters in height.
The Maldives is very popular for parasailing and will make you question your experience if you’ve experienced this in other countries. The proximity of sailing spots from Malé makes it easier for you to find tour agents to book your ride and instantly get on board. Catch an aerial glimpse of your resort when you’re up there at the top and think how tiny people look from far, just like your stress and problems. Say hello to a new you once you land. Perfect for adults and honeymoon couples.
A parasailing ride for one person lasts for 10 minutes and is priced approximately at Rs. 7,000. On the other hand, for two people, the ride becomes a 12-minute voyage and approximately priced at Rs. 13,000. If you’re planning to indulge in several sports, try making a combo deal with your local adventure agent and combine more sports at reduced prices.
Location: Malé, Kuredu, and Galholu
For: Adventure enthusiasts, friends groups and honeymoon couples
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Approximate Cost: Rs. 7000 for one person and Rs. 13,000 for two
Why should you do it: To get an aerial view of your resort, the island and coastline
Tips: Wear light and check if all the safety measures like lifejackets are in place. Do not carry your mobile phones, wallets, watches and important documents when flying.
If you’re in the Maldives, you cannot miss out on the opportunity to get close to spotting dolphins and getting on a submarine to spot whales. The Maldives offers you one of the most unique experience through these offbeat activities where you’ll have a great family time with your kids and learn about the dolphins as they gush through the waters.
And yes, did you know that there are over 21 different species of dolphins and whales you can spot when in the Maldives? Yes, when these adorable animals cross one atoll to another, they are usually spotted and this happens very frequently. Dolphin spotting is a very common phenomena and can be easily arranged by associates at your place of stay or local tour operators. Daily tours or excursions to spot dolphins happen every day as they come in groups for feeding or just having fun in their territory. Priced at around Rs. 3,500 per person, this activity ensures a good family time with your kids, making your holiday all the more beautiful.
On the other hand, another exciting activity lined up for you at the Maldives is the whale submarine. Boarding a real submarine, you will have the chance to look at the gigantic marine-creatures from near through your submarine. This is best for those of you who are too scared to take up diving or underwater scooters. The submarines are air-conditioned and maintain normal atmospheric pressure so you don’t suffocate or feel claustrophobic. Perfect for both kids and adults, you will go on a voyage that looks nothing less than a sci-fi adventure, watching whales of different species at distances you can touch.
As far as safety is concerned, the submarines are state-of-the-art and have food, oxygen and water backup for 100 hours. On a beautiful day, you can also spot turtles, lionfish, yellow boxfish, snappers, and more and dive in deeper to exciting shipwrecked sites and shark-feeding areas.
Depending on your operator, there are four submarine dives on average on a day. The entire time for the tour to complete takes around three hours and is priced at around Rs. 5000 for a person. Dives usually happen from the Presidential Jetty in Malé, where staff from your operator will help you with the check in process. Most operators function every day except Fridays and accept only cash, preferably US dollars.
You can plan for your tour accordingly.
Location: Furaveri, Maafushi Island, Vihamanafushi, Malé and Hulhumale
For: Families, kids, nature enthusiasts and animal lovers
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Approximate Cost: Rs. 3500 for dolphin cruise andRs. 5,000 for whale submarine
Why should you do it: To spot over 21 varieties of dolphins and whales and learn more about the ingenious flora and fauna of the Maldives marine life.
Tips: Wear light and carry a hat, camera, sunglasses, towel, wet tissues, sunscreen, water and a non-plastic spare bag. Do not throw plastic into the ocean.
A bucket-list worthy offering at the Maldives, the Ithaa restaurant’s concept looks like something born out of a sweet imagination and unbending determination. If you’re still guessing, Ithaa is an underwater restaurant, whose images you may have shared online. Located at a whopping 16 feet below the ocean, Ithaa is world’s first all-glass undersea restaurant.
It was the year 2014 when the New York Daily announced Ithaa as the world’s most beautiful restaurant. True to its label, the restaurant offers a 180 degree panoramic view of the coral reefs and a peek into the marine ecosystem as you soak your taste buds in a 6-course contemporary European cuisine. From caviars to specialty cocktails, Ithaa is not a restaurant but an experience. If you can afford, you can also book the restaurant for private ceremonies and occasions.
The diner is usually open for lunch and dinner from 11:00 am to 12:00 am. The lunch menu serves you selections of squid, lobsters, shimichi mushrooms, chicken and cheesecake and Oscietra caviar, foiegras, consommé of the day, prawn tartars, reef lobsters, veloute selections, sorbets, sea snails, panna cotta for dinner.
The restaurant has strict policies of dress codes where you’re expected to dress smart and appropriate. It is open to children for lunch and not for dinner. The lunch menu is approximately costs USD $195 or Rs. 13,000 while dinner is more expensive at aboutRs. 21,000 per person. The price is worth the view and the fact that it was built in Singapore and carefully brought into the ocean in one piece. Nothing less than an architectural marvel right? Oh yes, the price also includes a glass of champagne.
Must Eat: Consomme of the day and prawn tartars
Approximate Cost for Two: Rs. 26,000 for lunch and close to Rs. 42,000 for dinner
Address: Conrad Rangali Island 20077, Maldives
Contact: +960 668-0629
Opening Hours: 11AM–2:30PM, 6:30–10:30PM
Located at DhiggaMagu, Malé, the low-key cozy restaurant is the perfect alternate to the other fancy restaurants but only in terms of pricing. With quality being the primary ingredient, Seaside Grill offers one of the most authentic delicacies in the Maldives. The eatery is perfect for families and couples who would love to take time out of their itineraries and immerse in good food and great conversations.
The place is famous for its coffee, cheesecakes, pies, pastries, beef patties, hamburgers and a range of non-alcoholic beverages. It’s also prominent for its lobster and hot dog selections and super-friendly service and hygienic ambience. The best part about the restaurant is the ethnicity it brings to its flavors and dishes. With locally baked buns and gourmet sausages, it adds a dose of contentment that makes every meal here perfect. For two people, the price can go anywhere from 200 to 350 rufiyaa approximately.
Must Eat: Cheesecake, brownie, coffee and beef patty burgers
Approximate Cost for two: 200 to 350 Rufiyaa or Rs. 1000 to Rs. 1,500
Address: Lot 10105 DhiggaMagu, Hulhumale 23000, Maldives
Contact: +960 964-3766
Opening Hours: 9 AM to 11 PM
Two days into our holidays and one of the first things we crave for is our staple food. Moreover, every group has at least one person who is strictly a vegetarian. So, if you’ve been going around to restaurants, picking the most vegetarian option available, it’s time to pamper yourself. Just Veg, a vegetarian only restaurant is a first-of-its-kind in the Maldives and has already received accolades and appreciation.
It serves Arabic, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines along with special menu selections for Jain cuisine. With vegan selections available and with top chefs experimenting with flavor combinations, this is one restaurant that could turn a hardcore non-vegetarian a vegetarian. Salads, noodles, samosa, vegetarian soups, sticky rice and even paneer tikka masala, this is a paradise inside a paradise for veggies. The restaurant is part of the Atmosphere, which is an all-inclusive resort. This means you need to stay there to enjoy all of its services and pampering.
Must Eat: Aromatic Viet Noodles, Shitake roll, Thai red curry and mango sticky rice
Approximate Cost for two: Platinum Plus plan at the Atmosphere resort
Address: Atmosphere Kanifushi, Kanifushi Islands 2002, Maldives
Contact: +960 662-0066
Opening Hours: Lunch and dinner
If the Maldives is calm, composed and totally relaxing during the day, it’s the exact opposite at nights. From wild parties and loud music to late night clubs, it has all and one such place to be in to be part of the extravaganza is the White Night Party. True to its name, the party has a dress code of white attires. So ensure you pack something in white for the party.
Under the luminescent lights in a tropical island, groove and sway to the tracks as popular DJs spin their decks for you to have a great time. The party unfolds every Friday night at the Babuna bar, Kuredu resorts. Popular for its cocktail recipes and finer food.
Must Try: Beer and cocktail selections
Opening Hours: From 8:00 PM
Location: Kuredu Maldives
Located at the Vilu Reef resort, the bar features a folklore program, where the locals sing and dance to traditional music and songs. Besides, there is also an event called the Bodu-Beru concert happening, which literally translates to a big drum.
Besides partying and clubbing, one of the unique experiences you can allocate time for when in the Maldives is crab racing. Yes, as exciting it may sound, it is equally thrilling to be participating in it as well. The rule is simple. You pick up a crab for about USD $5 and take part. You place the crab on the starting line and compete with a competitor who is also pondering if the crabs would make it to the finish line. The funnies part about the race is that there no guides guiding the crabs and they go about in all possible directions. The first one to cross the circle line wins.
Velingadu has a bar that features crab racing every Saturday night. There are other prominent bars that offer this activity and you can buy a cocktail or a mocktail as you cheer your crab towards victory.
If there’s one prominent place to shop from apparel to electronic goods, it has to be MajeedheeMagu. This avenue lets you do what you do best – bargain for the best prices and leave with your purchase with satisfaction like no other. Located at MajeedheeMagu road in Malé, the bazaar is perfect to shop for hippie stuff, ornaments, local jewelries, dry fish chips, smoked fish and local cosmetics. If you’re tired shopping here, you can also dine at one of the numerous restaurants located here. It’s open from 9 in the morning to 11 at night.
Timing: 9 AM to 11 PM
Known for: ornaments, local jewelries, cosmetics and fish derivatives
Bargaining: Feel free to bargain and ask for the best deals
This one’s for all you women out there! Nala boutique is a haven when it comes to women wear and accessories. Situated at Kurumba Maldives, inside the premises of the resort, Nala boutique doesn’t have a single reason to leave you empty handed. From coconut oil, skirts, local jewelry and accessories to elegant beachwear, there’s a lot to choose from and shop at Nala boutique. The boutique opens at 8. 30 in the morning and is open till 10 at night. Priced is mostly fixed and bargaining won’t fetch you anything except frowns.
Location: Kurumba Resorts
Timing: 8:30 AM to 10:00 PM
Known for: Fancy beachwear, women apparels, beach toys and local jewelry
Bargaining: Since it’s a boutique bargaining won’t get you anywhere with your purchase.
Located at MaléHigun, the Malé local market is a fan favorite avenue for shopping. It’s colorful and buzzing with tourists looking out for perfect souvenirs. Speaking of souvenirs, the local market is also the preferred place to shop mementos for your relatives and friends and give them another reason to be envious of your vacation.
So, if you’re looking for something for Sharma ji or Srinivason, this is the place you need to head to and shop for handicraft and gift items, pickles, sweetmeat, coconut milk, seashells home décor and more. The market is open every day from 8 in the morning to until 11 in the night.
Timing: 8 AM to 11 PM
Known for: souvenirs, handicrafts, pickles, home décor items and sweetmeat
Bargaining: Moderate Skills required if you want to get items at best prices